Experts Talk

Let’s Get the Word Out About Aphasia

In response to the flood of calls, texts, postings and emails we have received from people in the aphasia community in the US and around the world, the National Aphasia Association would like to offer information about this condition to the general public in an effort to correct an error of omission in ABC’s coverage of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery.

First, we would like to express our heartfelt congratulations to Gabby for her recovery so far and offer her, Mark Kelly and their family any ongoing support they might need as they face the challenge of aphasia.

While ABC did an accurate and comprehensive job of explaining aphasia, the program inexplicably never mentioned Gabby’s condition by name. It is aphasia – the inability to read, write, speak or communicate after a stroke or other sudden traumatic brain injury, such as the one Gabby tragically experienced. Continue reading the full article

Your Brain At Its Best

Following is a handout with tips that I use with people with aphasia to make speaking, reading, and writing as easy as possible. Continue reading the full article

Sexual Intimacy after a Stroke

Couple laying in bed

Are you frustrated by the lack or romance in your relationship after a stroke? Do you long for closeness, intimacy and a satisfying sex life with your partner, but find that it’s just not happening? You are not alone—most couples want to be intimate after a stroke, but there are a number of things that can make this challenging. Physical problems, including medication side effects, incontinence, medical illnesses, and limited movement or sensation can cause a drop in sexual desire or function. But the biggest obstacles are psychological—fear of another stroke, depression, and lack of communication between partners. When your spouse has aphasia, sending and receiving messages about love, affection and sexual desire is especially difficult.

But don’t give up! Regaining sexual intimacy after a stroke is possible, and well worth the effort. Here are some tips that may help you: Continue reading the full article

Supporting People With Aphasia – Doing It Right?

AphasiaNZ Logo

The Aphasia Association of New Zealand was formed in 2007, following an expressed need for a specific organisation to support people with aphasia. Our mission is to empower people with aphasia to participate in their own communities.

AphasiaNZ is a registered charity. We run a conference every 2 years, with our next conference being held in November 2011. This is aimed at people with aphasia and health professionals. Continue reading the full article

A Brief History of Aphasia Centers

Aphasia Center of California annual Walk to Talk event

Many Aphasia Centers have a philosophy of service delivery consistent with a social model of healthcare. Pioneers of social approaches to aphasia treatment included Martha Taylor Sarno and Audrey Holland, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that a growing number of aphasiologists began to focus their attention on social approaches to aphasia assessment and intervention. The Life Participation Approach to Aphasia (LPAA), a social model framework proposed by Roberta Chapey, Judith Duchan, Roberta Elman, Linda Garcia, Aura Kagan, Jon Lyon, and Nina Simmons-Mackie, had its start during informal discussions and meetings in the early-to-mid 1990s, followed by a formalized working meeting in 1999. LPAA was an independent effort, and, in part, a response to those in the United States who were stating that aphasia therapy was “dead.” Continue reading the full article

Quiet Truth

It is difficult to be an experienced Speech-Language Pathologist living in Tucson, where we get speculative reports on the changing condition of our beloved and cruelly injured Gabrielle Giffords. Flurries of words, all sounding positive about recovery, but rightfully not predicting the truly unpredictable, leave me feeling snowed under. I long to hear the simple truth of “we don’t know”, nuanced with all the hope, empathy, and optimism that should accompany them. Continue reading the full article

Accommodating the Communication Disability Associated with Aphasia in the Courtroom

Many people in the aphasia community have heard about the case of a Massachusetts woman with aphasia who had to fight a battle to testify in a court case filed against a certified nursing assistant she had accused of assaulting her in her living facility. An earlier posting related to this case can be found at: “National Aphasia Association Update on the Case of Ruby McDonough”.

As stated in the earlier post: “The judge essentially ruled that because the basis for the earlier decision on competency had failed to recognize Ruby’s capacity to testify with accommodations, she had a right to take the stand at trial and utilize all reasonable accommodations to facilitate her communications as a witness against her assailant.”

Last week on March 10th the trial began and concluded the following day. Ms. McDonough was able to testify in the courtroom and pointed out the defendant as the man who had assaulted her. She was asked a number of questions by the attorneys from both sides. The trial was a bench trial which means that the judge and not a jury determined the outcome of the case. After listening to all of the cross-examination of witnesses and the arguments of both sides, the judge found the defendant not guilty.

I was at the trial and in this posting I would like to address some of the issues I see as important to accommodating those with aphasia in a courtroom. I was asked by Marian Ryan to assist in the case by conducting an evaluation of Ms. McDonough and I was also called as a witness to testify about the disability of aphasia itself. Continue reading the full article

Shifting Focus: Empowering People with Aphasia to Participate in Community Activities

How do people with aphasia shift their focus and efforts from overcoming aphasia to engaging in activities that promote “living well with aphasia”?  At the Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement, (SCALE), we believe that focusing on “others” is a good place to start.  Some members of SCALE choose to participate in SCALE’s “Community Outreach” class that encourages them to get involved in the wider community through volunteer efforts. Continue reading the full article

The Public Awareness of Aphasia Around the World

Globe with flagsImproving understanding of the public awareness of aphasia in different cultures and communities is particularly relevant to efforts to improve and extend services, to increase research support and to encourage improved social inclusion of aphasic people.

There is a relationship between the services that are provided for a condition, the research funds invested in that condition, and the level of public awareness of that condition.

For instance, there is a much lower frequency of occurrence of the word ‘aphasia’ in US newspapers compared to other comparable conditions, like Parkinson’s disease, despite the fact that aphasia occurs more often (Elman et al., 2000).

Frequency of occurrence of a condition in the media is related to the levels of public knowledge and the funding of services for that condition. Continue reading the full article

Why Personalized Treatment Matters

“How can the SLP/rehab facilities gear or personalize therapy and rehabilitation towards the person with aphasia’s prior interests/hobbies/vocations?”

“How can the SLPs engage the person with aphasia, not just do rote exercises but rather connect with the aphasic as a personality, tailor the therapy to the individual needs?”

“What is the effect on the person with aphasia if they do not like their SLP or the SLP doesn’t understand the patient’s needs or doesn’t customize the therapy towards them?”

These are questions raised by the members of an aphasia support group. And they are on to something. It is important for therapists to gear activities toward the person’s interests. Here are some reasons why it is important.

Continue reading the full article